The effects of nuclear weapons. Credible nuclear deterrence, debunking "disarm or be annihilated". Realistic effects and credible nuclear weapon capabilities for deterring or stopping aggressive invasions and attacks which could escalate into major conventional or nuclear wars.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Differences in intervention risks between the Civil Wars in Libya and Vietnam, and a review of Dr Fred Charles Iklé's 1991 book Every War Must End

Above: Colonel Gadaffi has been in power since pulling off a military coup in 1969. So he knows a thing or two about revolutions, propaganda, and the need to ruthlessly suppress dissenters. "War's objective", said General Douglas MacArthur, "is victory - not prolonged indecision. In war, there is no substitute for victory." (This statement of MacArthur was challenged by Dr Iklé's book, Every War Must End, which tried to justify the possibility of America's withdrawl from Vietnam. Iklé argues that compromises can sometimes be a solution short of victory.)

Gadaffi is drumming up support by jamming free unbiased TV transmissions around Tripoli while broadcasting state TV propaganda accusing all his opposition to be drugged Al Qaida terrorists, which is why he dominates Tripoli with propaganda and gets back so much support there: he is jamming Arabic language Russian Today (Rusiya Al-Yaum) TV transmissions relayed by the Nilesat (AB4) satellite. Al Jazeera TV on the Arabsat satellite frequency is jammed by the "Libyan intelligence technical administration building south of Tripoli". In addition, Gadaffi is jamming Alhurra TV on the Nilesat satellite. To help free democracy in Libya, the first thing is to get unbiased Arabic language TV news (not BBC propaganda) into Tripoli, stopping Gadaffi's propaganda lies by jamming them! It's cheap and risk-free, compared to having the risk of aircraft shot down in a no-fly zone!

On CNN today, Senator John McCain argued for the jamming of Libyan state TV's lying propaganda from the Gadaffi regime, which is an obvious and technically easy undertaking, unlike a policed no-fly zone, which will expose aircraft to the many anti-aircraft missiles, rockets, shells, and bullets in the possession of Gadaffi's regime. See the February 2009 U.S. Army Field Manual FM 3-36, Electronic Warfare in Operations. There is spare communications satellite capability over North Africa which can be adapted for this purpose, while terrestrial radio transmissions could easily be jammed using a ship off Libya.

Above: in 1971, as Vietnam War costs and opposition in America increased, Dr Fred Charles Iklé wrote the book Every War Must End. The book uses examples of termination from previous wars (not Vietnam), stressing that the negotiation of political settlements can be a way out of war. Dr Iklé makes various errors, omissions, and some disastrous obfuscations, which I will discuss in detail when I review it in detail in this post. As mentioned in previous posts about the rapid recovery of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after nuclear explosions in 1945, Dr Iklé authored the 1958 study, The Social Impact of Bomb Destruction. Before his U.S. Government work, Iklé was Professor of political science at MIT from 1964-7, and then head of social science at the RAND Corp from 1968-72. He was then Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under Presidents Nixon and Ford, 1973-7, and from 1981 he was President Reagan's Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, when he developed and implemented the policy of supplying Afghanistan's taliban with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to fight their Soviet invaders between 1986-8, against CIA opposition! In an article called "Victory in Afghanistan: The Inside Story" in the December 1988 issue of Readers Digest (pages 87-93), Fred Barnes makes the case that this stinger missile supply policy was a critical factor in convincing Gorbachev to pull out the defeated USSR out of Afghanistan in 1988, leading to the rapid reform of USSR political militarism that soon undermined the communist USSR regime. Dr Iklé explains on page ix of the 1991 revised edition of Every War Must End: "Moscow's difficulties in ending the fighting by Soviet forces in Afghanistan surely contributed to the far-reaching changes in Soviet foreign policy after 1988."

The Libyan Civil War at present is not a perfect analogy to the early Vietnam Civil War situation, but it does have certain similarities. This is particularly important regarding any future British intervention (Prime Minister Cameron indicated last night on the BBC One Show that he was planning for all possibilities).

First, consider how the Vietnam Civil War differs from Libya. In Vietnam, both sides were backed up heavily by external powers. China and the USSR were providing military aid and propaganda support to help the cause of the communist Vietcong in North Vietnam (which wanted to invade the south and impose communist dictatorship), while America was backing South Vietnam. Much of the USSR anti-war propaganda was being dropped on mainland America, backing up natural anti-war feelings. Another part of the problem was that the Vietcong insurgents were hiding under cover of the jungles, and there was no physical division between North and South Vietnam that could be safely policed without the danger of ambush.

Second, consider how the early stages of the Vietnam war are similar to Libya. They are both civil wars. They are both fought over the issue of dictatorship control versus free and democratic election. There was the argument in Vietnam that the people should have been left to fight it out between themselves.

(This non-intervention argument had apparently been debunked when it was used by the pacifist appeasers of Hitler in the 1930s, although of course Hitler was not backed up by a superpower at that time, although after the Nazis had become more powerful he did form an alliance with Stalin's USSR for their joint invasion of Poland in 1939; this USSR-Nazi alliance ended of course with the surprise Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941.)

Is intervention in Libya likely to escalate the crisis into an all-out indiscriminate war like Vietnam? The answer must be no, unless someone steps in to support the Gadaffi regime. There are other dictatorships in the Middle East which could offer support to Gadaffi, but both of his immediate neighbours, Tunisia and Egypt, have just had democratic revolutions.

So it appears unlikely that an outside intervention in the Libyan Civil War could get bogged down into a Vietnam style conflict, because Gadaffi will have little outside support. Intervention in a civil war can be justified for pro-democratic reasons or pro-humanitarian reasons. There should be no confusion over the reason for intervention. The essential argument for outside intervention is to end the Libyan Civil War quickly to minimise the number of casualties, i.e. it is pro-humanity reason rather than just a political pro-democracy reason.

The risks of intervention

What kinds of intervention should be used? When can the humanitarian intervention argument be backed up with a solid comparison of casualty predictions for both situations? The best solution would be to accurately predict the casualties from (a) the policy of non-intervention, and (b) various intervention policies, and then compare the results to determine which policy is most life-saving option. In practice, political decisions are rarely taken so rationally. Public opinion (of the "if it works, don't fix it"-variety) demands that no action ever be taken at public expense until after a clear disaster occurs, and then public opinion suddenly tips and flips into asking why nothing was done earlier to prevent the disaster from occurring.

Review of Dr Iklé's 1971 (revised 1991) book, Every War Must End

Dr Iklé ends his book with the usual politically correct but scientifically false claim that nuclear weapons can destroy the world and therefore mean that nuclear war must be avoided at any cost, giving no discussion of civil defence or nuclear weapons effects. In previous posts, I've explained in detail why this is a dangerous claim; it is firstly a lie, and secondly it was proven a danger from the results of 1930s appeasement when conventional aerial bombing by high explosives, incendiaries and gas bombs were exaggerated to the scale of Cold War nuclear war magnitude. Dr Iklé seems unaware of the exaggerations of nuclear weapons effects and the downplaying of civil defence countermeasures in anti-nuclear propaganda.

He also gives an entirely misleading, pro-American and anti-British account of the 1956 Suez canal crisis. On pages 6-7 of the 1991 edition of Every War Must End, Iklé claims that British Prime Minister "Eden saw in Nasser a second Hitler and decided that, unlike in the 1930s, there was to be no appeasement. To remove Nasser ..." He then goes on to claim at length that Eden was foolish to land troops by the Suez canal in trying to remove Nasser, and that it was all a badly thought out idea. The British version of the Suez crisis history is very different. Eden wasn't trying to remove Nasser, but simply trying to regain control of the Suez canal after Nasser nationalized it, when it was still on a lease lasting until 1970 from the Egyptians by the British backed Suez Canal Company. Egypt's Nasser had negotiated the removal of British troops from the Suez canal in 1954, and then nationalized the canal company. Eden was only returning troops to protect the Suez canal, and it did so with assistance from Israel and France. America and the USSR at the UN then forced a military withdrawl of Britain, France and Israel from the Suez canal.

Despite these glaring biases, the book also tends to ignore peaceful genocide, lack of freedom, and inhumanity under oppressive dictatorships without war. It therefore sides with the pacifist literature by ignoring or at least playing down the fact that important wars have been fought not for imperialistic desires to plunder other nations, but to liberate people from tyranny, to oppose imperialistic regimes and dictatorships. This is due to its original 1971 purpose in defending the ethics of a withdrawl from Vietnam without victory, but it also contains an important analysis of the literature on war termination, albeit not organized in the clearest possible way. Instead of summarizing the all the lessons from each war in one place, the lessons of each war are separated into five chapters under the topics "The purpose of fighting" (which investigates why wars are started), "The Fog of Military Estimates" (how the military will fiddle its estimates to suit its prejudices, underplaying risks if it wants to start a war, and exaggerating predicted casualties if it doesn't), "Peace through Escalation" (how wars can be ended by immense increases in offensive action, e.g. WWII was ended by escalating from conventional warfare to nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki), "The Struggle Within: Patriots Against 'Traitors'" (e.g., the failed assassination attempts made on Hitler), "The Struggle Within: Search for an Exit" (e.g. Japan's attempt to achieve a conditional surrender which would avoid occupation), and "Epilogue: Ending Wars Before the Start" (arms races for deterrence versus disarmament and appeasement).

Starting with Iklé's 1991 preface, he begins by on page vii by arguing that "it is the way in which a war is brought to an end that has the most decisive long-term, impact." Iklé does not mention General Pershing's 1918 accurate prediction that the armistice would be cause another German-led World War in twenty years time. Pershing argued that Germany should have been occupied by the allies in 1918, instead of signing an armistice and paying war reparations. He could see that the German soldiers would simply feel betrayed by their leaders who signed the armistice, and would think of the surrender as a sell-out. They would accept defeat unless it was forced upon them, so there would be another war. This is precisely what happened. Hitler was able to claim that the German surrender in 1918 was an incompetence of the political leadership which he tried to pin on Jews, not a national failure. This was his way to restore national pride.

Efforts to minimise casualties in terminating a war by negotiation can therefore be taken not as a display of compassion or humanity, but as a display of military weakness. This was also seen in the American withdrawl from Vietnam under the Paris peace agreement of 1973. The North Vietnam promised not to invade the South, and America promised to stop supplying munitions and fuel to the South. Only America kept its bargain, and North Vietnam invaded the South as American withdrew. Without munitions and fuel, the South could not defend itself. Iklé points out that the North Vietnam victory turned sour when its economy collapsed and it ended up in conflicts with Cambodia and China.

Iklé claims on page ix that "Brezhnev's decision to send forces into Afghanistan was thoughtlessly taken, with no plan for ending the asventure and little attention to the political goals of the invasion." This is misleading and similar to his vacuous claim that Eden had no clear plans to topple Nasser when sending troops into the Suez canal (toppling Nasser that was not Eden's primary objective). As with Eden, Iklé's claim about Brezhnev is misleading. Brezhnev was an evil communist dictator and addicted to drugs, but he did not go into Afghanistan for the non-reason Iklé claims. Brezhnev had the world's biggest conventional army which was bankrupting his country, and he had to try to justify the military expense and also to stamp out dissent by unifying his nation behind a war, in order to continue the Marxist-communist world revolution started by Lenin in 1917. Until Britain had been disarmed (and thus ceased to be an unsinkable aircraft carrier for America) by Moscow's World Peace Council affiliates like CND activists in the British Labour Party, Brezhnev could not invade Western Europe safely, so he invaded Afghanistan instead in 1979! Iklé ignores the militarism of the USSR and its political effects.

If Brezhnev had not moved in that direction, he would have been replaced by a hardliner who would have done it. Militaristic dictatorships become increasingly unstable if they lock up massive armies in barracks for too long, economically crippling the country. Hence, a key reason why Hitler kept putting his vast conscripted army to use in the 1930s was that it deflected attention from criticism of the undemocratic state-of-emergency dictatorship powers he continued to retain long after the Reichstag fire. His continuous use of the military enabled him to retain public prestige, support and dictatorial power. If he had curbed his ambitions, his critics would have found it much easier to oppose and topple him for weak leadership. So the military decisions of dictators are connected to their power needs, and cannot be examined in isolation. Not even a dictator can justify a massive conscription army forever at crippling expense, if it is kept in its barracks all the time.

On page x, Iklé falls into the same error with the Vietnam War, claiming America had no "clear military strategy". The American military strategy was clear: keep the Vietcong from invading South Vietnam using a demilitarized zone! The error was not the lack of a clear military strategy, but the tactics and types of weapons used in keeping the rainforest covered demilitarized zone clear of insurgents (these errors are discussed in great detail two posts ago).

On the same page, he then discusses the 1983 terrorist suicide bombing of the Beirut barracks that killed 241 Americans, pointing out that U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger "had strongly counseled against the deployment of American forces that led to this tragedy, forces that were sent into Lebanon without a clear military strategy and without an achievable mission." Again, Iklé oversimplifies the situation to give the misleading impression; the problem was that that a massive terrorist bomb was allowed in beside the barracks! If the barracks had been properly isolated and protected by security measures that worked, it would not have been vulnerable. The French have recently been coerced by Hezbollah in the Lebanon. The non-intervention idea was well and truly debunked in the 1930s, when it allowed threats to spiral out of control, ending up with World War II. So running away from threats is not always a foolproof solution when you are faced with terrorist coercion. Better security measures are needed to detect, foil and disarm terrorist regimes, instead.

Weinberg's lesson from the 1983 Beirut terrorism, in his 1990 memoirs Fighting for Peace page 160 was not that intervention is wrong, but that soldiers should not be sent in as taken soft targets for suicide terrorists when diplomacy fails, but that the policy should then be to commit "enough forces to win and win overwhelmingly." The problem which politicians create is to try to use the military in a soft way, leaving them vulnerable targets, effectively fighting with both hands tied behind their backs, when insurgent snipers, ambushers, and suicide bombers have the factors of both civilian camouflage and surprise on their side!

Dr Iklé on the failure of civilian bombing strategies

Iklé is correct when revisiting the subject of his 1958 Social Impact of Bomb Destruction. On pages x-xi of the 1991 Every War Must End, Iklé states:

"... the United States should not enter a war based on a strategy of inflicting 'punishment' on the enemy by bombing or shelling targets whose destruction will not serve to defeat the enemy's forces militarily. ... A despotic ruler will not sue for peace merely because his soldiers or his civilians suffer pain and death. The 'punishment strategy' could not end the Korean War against Kim Il Sung or the Vietnam War against Ho Chi Minh; and had the United States relied on it in the [1990-1 Persian] Gulf War against Saddam Hussein it would have failed there, too."

This is a very important point, but again Iklé pushes the generalization too far, claiming that in the Vietnam War the mistake of using the conventional bombing civilians to try to undermine morale was made again, despite the failure of this policy in World War II. The deception here is that the immense bombing in Vietnam was specifically directed at civilians, when they were being hurt and killed by collateral damage in conventional warfare. The whole problem in Vietnam was jungle cover for military targets. This led to unnecessary collateral damage, which could have been avoided (as explained in detail two posts ago).

In short, Iklé confuses the collateral damage for the military objectives. In his endnotes on page 133, he manages to obfuscate the distinction between military objectives and collateral damage caused by forest or city building cover and civilian camouflage, simply by not using the term collateral damage:

"Accuracy and discrimination in the use of offensive armaments is important not only for these political reasons but also to make military forces more efficient. The fewer munitions that miss the target, the fewer the attacks needed and the less demanding the required logistics support. In sum, relying on indiscriminate destruction is not a prudent strategy: it is normally a wasteful use of military capabilities; it is normally a grave mistake in seeking to end a war; and as a threat, indiscriminate destruction also makes an unreliable deterrent. Cf. Discriminate Deterrence, Report of the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, Fred C. Iklé and Albert Wohlstetter, Co-Chairmen [report ADA277478] (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988)."

Iklé then claims on page xi that the German submarine warfare campaign begun after two and a half years of war against merchant shipping is an example of the failure of the "punishment" strategy because it "brought the United States into the war against Germany and thus led to Germany's defeat". Firstly, the Lusitania was actually sunk by German U-boat U-20 on 7 May 1915, less than a year into the war. Secondly, the failure of German submarine warfare against merchant ships was due to easy and quick countermeasures of warship-protected merchant ship convoys, hydrophones to detect submarines, and depth charges to blow them up (plus the asdic submarine detection method in 1918, a precursor to sonar). Without these simple countermeasures, Britain could have lost the war before America came on the scene in 1917. So it is misleading to claim that Germany's shipping policy failed because it brought America into the war.

Iklé then makes the misleading claim on page xi:

"Unless governments of modern democracies can demonstrate that they are expending every effort to avoid unnecessary destruction, they will lose the necessary political support for pursuing the war to a satisfactory end, at home as well as among their allies. In the last analysis, democracies must avoid wanton damage not only to maintain public support for the war effort but also to conduct the war in a way that is consonant with the nation's basic values."

This is completely disproved by the historic public demand for the initiation of allied bombing of civilian cities in World War II. Nazi and Japanese atrocities failed to instil a public mood of defeatism, destruction of public morale, and demands for Government surrender to the enemy which sociologists and psychologists had predicted to widespread applause and acceptance before World War II. The overwhelming response was the exact opposite. The public wanted to inflict not the same damage back on the enemy, but more damage. Iklé's motives are good, but he is not developing a theory which fits all the facts. In Vietnam public support was lost because of military failure at great expense for a none-too-lovable regime in South Vietnam. Vietnam did not disprove the lessons of World War II, where enemy city bombing was begun by Britain due to public demand after Nazi actions, not out of military necessity. In any case it's very hard to make an omelette without breaking any eggs. The continuing public opposition to Samuel Cohen's neutron bomb, which eliminates collateral damage, may suggest that the public don't really support the idea of trying to humanise deterrence or confine weapons to military targets. But this is mainly due to the legacy of Goebbels-type propaganda against the neutron bomb begun from the Moscow based "World Peace Council" in the Cold War.

Iklé on pages xi-xii tries to justify his surgical military war concept using the 1990-1 Persian Gulf War which rapidly pushed Saddam out of Kuwait with minimal casualties:

"In the six-week war in the Persian Gulf, American strategy sought to heed every one of these lessons. The U.S.-led coalition assembled sufficient force to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait, and from beginning to end it followed a comprehensive and careful war plan to achieve this military objective. Moreover, the tactics and weaponry of the American forces and the coalition partners destroyed military targets with precision - targets selected so that their destruction would make a direct contribution to the military campaign while carefully avoiding, as much as possible, civiliam damage."

Sounds good, but it left a big problem intact, Saddam. Thus, the Iraq War of 2003, which killed up to 100,000 people. This was quote different in nature from the earlier war against Saddam which Iklé applauded for avoiding civilian damage in 1991. Immediately after the 1991 war, President George Bush's approval rating soared to 88% (although he lost the next election to Clinton), while his son President George W. Bush achieved a 90% approval rating (the highest on record for any president at any time in history) immediately following his tough response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on America (although that plummeted to just a 22% approval rating by 2009 when he left office). Iklé argues at the end of his 1991 preface on page xv that the collapse of the USSR implies that:

"In the short run, tyrants may prevail; but in every corner of the globe vast majorities are winning the slow struggle to establish democratic governance. In the view of many, the global spread of democracy is creating an expanding realm of peace: modern democracies will not and cannot wage war against each other.

"Yet this global spread of democracy will not be without reversals [caused by economic crisis as with the emergence of power-politics idealisms like communism in Russia in 1917 and fascism in Italy, Germany and Japan, or by oil shortages, religious extremism, etc.]. We must expect that nations, ethnic groups, religious or political movements will again come under the control of tyrants who unhesitatingly start wars to expand their dominion or to destroy their adversaries. ...

"In a future war, to confront an aggressor so motivated and armed with mass destruction weapons, surely, we could not rely on 'graduated deterrence', 'flexible response', and similar strategic concepts from the Cold War era. We need a new strategy ... Any future tyrant who would launch a war of aggression, regardless of cost or consequences, will have to be deprived of mass destruction weapons before he uses them. ..."

This is exactly what the 2003 Iraq war sought to do, at enormous cost in lives and money. Iklé's approach is to completely ignore civil defense and ABM technology, and then to confuse the kind of low-collateral damage military technology that can drive a military column out of Kuwait with the kind needed to stop Saddam from using (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. While civil defense and ABM would not be foolproof against an overwhelming Cold War propaganda-style all-out thermonuclear war, these countermeasures would be far more effective against limited uses of weapons of mass destruction from terrorist regimes (before they amass an immense thermonuclear stockpile), with fewer casualties than the Iraq war. Therefore, it is vital to consider civil defense and ABM deployment as part of the overall solution to future terrorist regime WMD threats.

Chapter 1: The Purpose of Fighting

In chapter 1, Iklé discusses the outbreaks of various wars in a contrived way, trying to make all the war initiations look like ignorant blunders, where the leaders starting the war did not have a clear strategy to terminate the war in their favour. Thus, he quotes the Japanese Army Chief of Staff (Sugiyama) telling the Japanese Emperor on 6 September 1941 (three months before Pearl Harbor) that the Pacific war to finish off America would only last three months. The Emperor responded that Sugiyama had predicted he could finish off China within one month, and was still at war with China four years later. This is supposed to prove the military lack of foresight in not producing a proper termination strategy for wars. However, as mentioned in a previous post, the underlying rush of Japan to start a war with America was due to the fact that Japan perceived it was losing an arms race with America, with its chance of winning the war decreasing with time! When defeat was in sight in July 1945, Japan sent requests to Stalin in Moscow (who had failed to declare war on Japan), requesting assistance in mediating and negotiating a conditional surrender with America. Stalin failed to respond, but he told Truman at the Potsdam Conference, and Truman had already received the decoded telegrams, as Iklé explains on pages 33-4. These prepared Truman to compromise on his definition of "unconditional surrender" after Nagasaki, accepted a solution, where the Emperor would be permitted to stay but Japan would be occupied.

Iklé then gives the example of Finland, which decided to fight the Soviet Union alone against overwhelming odds in 1939, and recognises that a nation may sometimes prefer "to go down fighting" than to give in to evil. Unfortunately, he doesn't in this context mention Britain's declaration of war against the Nazis in September 1939. Britain wasn't under attack or being invaded, or at direct risk at that time. Hitler still wanted to collaborate with British Government appeasers at that time. But Britain still declared war on a by-then much better-armed enemy (with the prospect of almost certain eventual invasion and occupation if American lend-lease, American military power, and the Nazi invasion of the USSR had not occurred later). At the time Britain finally declared war, the Nazi military expansion had become overwhelming. Britain had no war-termination plan, apart from Churchill's suggestion for guerrilla type resistance and a refusal to surrender even after an invasion of Britain. Iklé ignores this, preferring to give other examples of hopeless war initiations such as the Hungarian revolution of 1956 (ruthlessly suppressed by the USSR), and the defeat of the Tibetan independence movement by China in 1959. In these cases, Iklé states, no negotiation was needed to end the fighting. Overwhelming force is sufficient.

After ignoring the British declaration of war on the Nazi regime in 1939 when it faced overwhelming odds, Iklé on pages 9-10 chooses to use the 1939 outbreak of war between Britain and Germany (without considering who started it despite overwhelming odds and a lack of pretty war termination plans), as an example of an irrational change of policy from appeasement and peace-seeking to intolerance and ruthlessness:

"In peacetime, nations manage to live with unresolved conflicts ... But once two countries are at war, this tolerance suddenly vanishes. ... governments usually make more stringent demands of a settlement for ending a war than they imposed upon the relationship with the same adversary during the prewar period. ... the British government bent every effort to appease Nazi Germany. Yet, as soon as World War II broke out, the British governemnt was determined to fight for the elimination of Hitler's regime. It rejected any thought of a compromise peace, even ... while Hitler, after he had defeated Poland, actually hinted that he wanted a settlement."

The costs involved in starting a war simply lead a nation to seek a bigger return, in order to compensate for the risks and losses of war, than it would demand in times of peace. There is nothing surprising or irrational about this. If someone threatens you and starts a fight, the stakes injuries drive the costs of ending the argument become higher than they would be in a discussion. Iklé points to the costs of WWI for all major belligerents (millions of casualties, the end of the Russian Tsar, Austrian Empire, and Imperial Germany, and the weakening of the British and French Empires) as evidence of a lack of adequate war termination stategy. Again, this is contrived and misleading. As explained in detail in a previous post, the underlying 1912 German war plan behind the 1914 outbreak of World War I was based on ignorance of the efficiency of trench shelters against explosive shells in the Siege of Petersburg during the American Civil War. This ignorance was what led the German military staff to overestimate the efficiency of its big guns and machine guns, and to predict a short war. It was not a lack of foresight of how to terminate the war, but a weapons effects exaggeration and countermeasure efficiency omission error. If they had the correct facts, they wouldn't have been able to predict a quick victory.

As Winston Churchill explained in the Parliamentary Debate on 25 April 1918, Germany was only able to continue the war after the end of 1914 by emergency improvised technologies, such as the first large-scale application of the Haber process to munitions production:

“It is a very strange thing to reflect that but for the invention of Professor Haber [the Haber process for synthesising ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen, replacing the need to utilize natural sodium nitrate] the Germans could not have continued the War after their original stack of nitrates was exhausted. The invention of this single man has enabled them, utilising the interval in which their accumulations were used up, not only to maintain an almost unlimited supply of explosives for all purposes, but to provide amply for the needs of agriculture in chemical manures. It is a remarkable fact, and shows on what obscure and accidental incidents the fortunes of possibly the whole world may turn in these days of scientific discovery.”

Iklé adds further examples of alleged lack of war termination planning, such as the 30 May 1967 joint defence agreement by Nasser of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan. This led Israel to start its successful Six-Day War against both countries on 5 June 1967. Iklé interprets this Israeli war to have been provoked by Egypt and Jordan, apparently "without the benefit of military estimates of how the war might end." This is particularly disingenuous. How on earth did Iklé expect Egypt and Jordan to predict exactly what Israel's response would be, and what Egypt and Jordan's response to Israel would be? There are far too many variables involved. If the world were simple enough to allow enemy intentions and responses to be accurately predicted, there would never be any wars. Iklé does the same for the North Koreans in 1950, pointing out that they failed to take account of military assistance from America for South Korea. Again, politics is not a simple game, so nobody can accurately predict future actions by adversaries.

On page 12, Iklé points out that a drawn out guerilla war can gradually demoralise a nation, giving the example not of America in Vietnam but of France in Algeria. When Algerian rebels started fighting for independence from France in 1954, French Interior Minister Francois Mitterand declared that "the only negotiation is war". But by 1962 France taken sufficient punishment from the rebels that President de Gaulle finally granted Algeria its independence from French rule. What is interesting here is that France, the financially much stronger side, was made war-weary and defeatist, while the guerrilla warfare tactics of the rebels sustained their morale for longer and finally enabled them to win independence by the processes of gradual attrition of their enemy, and out-surviving the patience of France. A similar process was at work for the Southern Confederacy in the American Civil War, as discussed in an earlier post. Union President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 was facing a presidential challenge from General McClellan for the Democratic candidacy on the promise to end the Civil War. It was only a last-minute attack on the Western flank of the Confederacy by General Sherman that enabled to Union overcome the trench warfare stalemate of Petersburg and win the war. Without that decisive blow, Lincoln might have lost the presidency, and the Union might have had to negotiate a settlement with the smaller but fanatically determined Confederacy.

This begs the question of why the stronger side loses its morale more quickly than the weaker side in guerrilla warfare (which caused America to cut its losses in Vietnam when it left in 1975). The answer is simply that the more powerful side responds differently to a military statemate than the weaker side. The more powerful side trys to "buy" victory by using its money, and then argues over why - despite having superior power - it is unable to achieve victory. The weaker side has fanatical morale in place of money, and doesn't have the "blame attribution" culture since it has fewer resources and knows it is battling against overwhelming odds anyway, so the weaker side may be more determined to survive, thus retaining its cohesiveness and morale for long enough to out-survive the opponent's patience.

Chapter 2: The Fog of Military Estimates

Chapter 2 in Every War Must End is Iklé's thesis on military estimates, which is brilliant, deriving in large part from his 1958 study, The Social Impact of Bomb Destruction. As a previous post explains, false military "estimates" exaggerating the effects of a Nazi terrorist bombing of London in the 1930s (predicting about a million casualties a month, starting the moment that war was declared) led to appeasement of the Nazis by successive British Governments up to the time of Prime Minister Chamberlain, which allowed the Nazis to expand their military and resources sufficiently to cause World War 2. These errors stemmed from using as the input data some of the worst examples of "sitting duck" casualties of 1917 Germany bombing on London where people were standing in the open doing nothing when bombs fell, before the first "duck and cover" advice (against blast wind caused bodily displacement and flying glass behind windows) was issued by the Government in July 1917.

Iklé states on pages 29-30 that this exaggeration of offensive bombing effectiveness in war that falsely "justified" the appeasement which allowed the Nazis to prepare for world war, did not end with the outbreak of war. Britain's exaggerations of offensive bombing effectiveness simply continued after war began, and when the predictions about rapid defeat through loss of morale failed, the argument switched to trying to destroy factory workers houses, to reduce munitions supply in Germany. On 14 February 1942, British Bomber Command Directive 22 ordered area bombing to be "focused on the morale of the enemy civil population and in particular of the industrial workers". Dr Iklé explains on pages 29-30:

"As it turned out, these 'area raids' of the British Bomber Command fell far short of the results that had been expected by the British in 1941. They failed in their main purpose of seriously damaging the morale of the German labor force (although ... they might have helped to speed up the surrender of German forces in 1945, and they did tie down German resources in air defense). ... British defense analysts [Professor Frederick Lindemann and Sir Henry Tizard] did in fact debate whether the proposed attacks against German cities would be effective. ... What is of interest here is that everything centered on the calculations of the number of planes that could be put to use, the number that could reach the target, and the physical effects of the bombs dropped. Those criticizing the estimates never challenged the one crucial sentence in the memorandum by Lindemann (who was close to Churchill) recommending the area attacks. This sentence was the only link between the estimated physical effects and the desired results of this coercive campaign. 'Investigation seems to show,' the memorandum argued, 'that having one's house demolished is most damaging to morale. ... There seems little doubt that this would break the spirit of the people.' (Italics, needless to day, added.) As it turned out, it was this judgement particularly that was mistaken. ... The Lindemann judgement implied that the number of people made homeless was an important criterion for the effectiveness of the bombing strategy, forgetting that people can double up without giving up their jobs ... In 1943-44, Berlin lost 40 percent of its dwellings, but the number of workers in essential industries did not decline at all.

"A parallel misjudgement was made by the British government in 1938 [and long before, as documented in detail in a previous post about T. H. O'Brien's 1955 official British history, Civil Defence], in studies of the possible effects of German air raids on London and other British cities. These studies estimated that the German air force could inflict high casualties and destruction, and predicted that an attack of such dimensions would constitute a 'knockout blow' to England. Quite apart from the question whether the figures were right (the British military analysts, it turns out, made many serious errors in their calculations), nobody paused to examine the judgement that a certain amount of casualties and destruction meant a 'knockout blow'. ... guesses, based on soft intelligence ... can provide easy opportunities for self-deception."

There was also the issue that the bombs were not always dropped very accurately on the inflammable wooden medieval centres of German cities, at least at first when only one-third of bombs were found to be dropped within 5 miles of their intended targets! Although morale was obviously affected by ordinary people subjected to repeated heavy bombing raids on German cities, such raids hardened the resolve of the hardened Nazi leaders like Hitler, and failed to convince him to surrender. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey found that 305,000 were killed by bombing in German cities while 7,500,000 German civilians were rendered homeless.

Chapter 3: Peace Through Escalation

“Escalation in World War 2 resulted from various factors that impelled leaders on both sides to respond to immediate problems with actions resulting in effects that were often neither planned nor foreseen. Although the specific events that contributed to World War 2 escalation are unique, the pressures and the manner in which decision makers responded could recur. In a controlled general war fought on the periphery of the Soviet Union, the outcome could depend on whether U.S. decision makers understand the process of escalation well enough to avoid mistakes provoked by the unfamiliar problems of a controlled general war.”

- F. M. Sallagar, The Road to Total War: Escalation in World War 2, RAND Corporation, report AD0688212, April 1969.

"One possibility [to end the Korean War by nuclear weapons escalation, after Eisenhower's election in November 1952 on the promise of ending the war] was to let the Communist authorities understand that, in the absence of satisfactory progress, we intended to move decisively without inhibition in our use of weapons, and would no longer be responsible for confining hostilities to the Korean Peninsula. We would not be limited by any world-wide gentleman's agreement. In India and in the Formosa Straits area, and at the truce negotiations at Panmunjom, we dropped the word, discretely, of our intention. We felt quite sure it would reach Soviet and Chinese Communist ears."

- President Dwight Eisenhower, Mandate for Change, Doubleday, N.Y, 1963, page 181.

"One rather paradoxical influence on the debate is that most self-styled humanists are also enthusiasts for what might be termed 'deterrence only'. They resist in a most intense and determined way any attempt to mitigate the effects on life and property of nuclear war through active [ABM] or passive [civil] defense, as well as any attempts at intra-war deterrence or other intra-war restraint, including restraints based on long-held religious doctrine or customs of war. Their aim is to maximize the element of terror in order to enhance - so they believe - the stability of peace based on deterrence."

- Herman Kahn, William Pfaff, and Edmung Stillman, War Termination Issues and Concepts, Hudson Institute, Harmon-on-Hudson, Final report, HI-921/3-RR, June 1968, page 95.

"I would not myself have thought a few years ago that one could organize widespread popular indignation among church groups and mothers on the basis of so extreme and farfetched a dogma, one that suggests that it is all right to threaten to launch missiles at enemy civilians, but peculiarly heinous to prepare to knock a missile down on its way to destroy millions of our citizens. ... [When] men and women of good will take it as so obviously right to depend solely on the threat to launch nuclear weapons against cities, we've come a long way from the Spanish Civil War and the world's shocked reaction to the bombing of several thousands of civilians at Guernica."

- Albert Wohlstetter (co-author of the 1956 RAND Corporation report R-290, Protecting U.S. Power to Strike Back in the 1950s and 1960s, on the need to harden nuclear weapons and delivery systems to withstand a surprise first-strike, thus averting the risky policy of launch-on-warning which could lead to an accidental war due to false warnings, leading to the "triad" of American nuclear deterrence consisting of airborne B-52 bombers, blast-hardened missile silos, and submarines hidden at sea, and author of the popular 1959 Foreign Affairs article on this topic, "The Delicate Balance of Terror"), testimony to the U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, Hearings: Military Procurement for Fiscal Year 1971, page 2237.

There were 93 hot wars fought during the "Cold War" period of 1945-88, costing 18 million human lives, and focussing a considerable proportion of world human and economic resources upon the development and deployment of conventional and nuclear weapons, missiles, rockets, space satellites, computers and science, bankrupting the USSR. The question arises, "could nuclear deterrence have been used to escalate those 93 conventional wars, saving those 18 million lives?"

After all, nuclear weapons were dropped to end conventional warfare by deliberate escalation in World War II. The answer, of course, is the exaggeration and misrepresentation of the effects of nuclear weapons, particularly collateral damage by long-range thermal effects, fallout, and climatic effects. Just as they did for disarmament and fascist appeasement in the 1930s (leading to World War II), the most outspoken in the pacifist lobby exaggerated aerial bombardment effects during the Cold War in order to deliberately try to remove nuclear weapons by disarmament, and certainly to try to prevent their use to end or deter conventional wars. In an earlier post we examined the use of nuclear deterrence to end the Korean War, which was protracted by British spies Philby, Burgess and MacLean, who leaked to the communists President Truman's secret promise to British Prime Minister Attlee that he would never use nuclear weapons in Korea (it was only when Eisenhower was elected and shipped out atomic weapons, that the North started talking). Russia then had relatively few atomic weapons, and China none.

By the time of the beginning of total war in Vietnam, 1965, the relative arms stockpiles on East and West in the Cold War was similar to the Munich 1938 situation in the pre-WWII arms race. The USSR's financial, propaganda, and military support for communist regimes around the world was gaining momentum, so the use of nuclear weapons or their threat to escalate and end conventional warfare was alleged to be a dangerous policy, likely to cause the enemy to counter-escalate, leading to a big nuclear war. As a result, escalation in war was widely portrayed as a danger to humanity, rather than as a way to end war. This is despite the fact that escalation has been behind all of the most sustained solutions to wars in human history!

As already mentioned, a case in point was the armistice that ended WWI, a supposedly civilized ending to the extremely destructive war. This led to WWII because the defeated soldiers (including Hitler) could see Germany undamaged and unoccupied and so brainwash themselves into believing that the settlement was a sell-out by weak leadership, rather than a necessity. Realising this in 1918, General Pershing correctly predicted WWII in twenty years time, when Germany had recovered strength.

During the Cold War, World War I was often misrepresented as a textbook example of how a regional local war (between Austria and Serbia, 28 July to 31 August, 1914), itself sparked off by one assassination, can rapidly and apparently uncontrollably escalate (through a series of "accidents") into a World War, due to war declarations via old military mutual defence agreements and alliances, which were made in an idealistic spirit, not for world war! However, as Dr Iklé explains on page 125:

"Historians have blamed the military staffs of the European powers [Germany and its allies, in particular] before 1914 for rigging their mobilization schedules and planned responses to an adversary's mobilization in such a way that limited military intervention by one power in an accidentally triggered local conflict automatically engulfed all those nations, within a few weeks, in one of history's most destructive wars."

[To be continued when time permits...]


At 3:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm believe that in future plans of China is conquest of Russia,by conventional means -troops,tanks and etc.This would happen ,I'm believe between 2030 and 2050.

So,what you would say about this.If Russia would have say 500 warheads in 100-500kt range at this time ,not even 100 as Pavel Podvig wanted .Of,course he believe that Postol's hyperhype is true,and 100 100-500 kt airbursts would burn modern steel and concrete cities to graund.

But China lost 49 million people from famine,and even 500 modern warheads woud kill smaller number,so I'm believe conquest of Russia and not only Russia immenent.There was some vision of future.Remember Jane Dixon.

At 6:33 pm, Blogger nige said...

Russia would need Samuel Cohen's air burst neutron bombs to deter or stop massed tank/troop invasions, without the risks of collateral blast/thermal/fallout damage.

The only military use for weapons of high yield (above 100 kt) is for surface bursts in cratering out hardened buried military targets, like missile silos, command center bunkers, air field runways (which aren't affected by thermal flash or air blast), railway lines, ships and submarines.

I don't think it is really credible - regardless of moral considerations - to expect nuclear weapons to be used again as they were at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the element of surprise was exploited to end WWII and save lives from being lost in a terrible invasion of Japan.

The blast and thermal effects can be largely overcome by duck and cover away from windows, and thermal effects are dependent on visibility while fallout depends on the weather. It's just not militarily credible or dependable unless you have a situation as at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 where there is no air defence, where there is hot dry August weather, overcrowded wooden houses with paper screens and charcoal braziers in use, and many people outdoors watching the B-29 drop the bomb. It's just not a militarily dependable situation.

The future of nuclear weapons should be to move towards better public understanding of the evidence and physics of the simple countermeasures against thermal flash, flying glass and wind drag from blast, and fallout radiation shielding and evacuation possibilities during periods of high dose rates downwind.

In addition, we should try to move to air burst neutron bomb warheads in cruise missiles and even ICBMs or SLBMs, which provide a credible deterrent against enemy military forces, without the risks of collateral heat, blast and fallout to nearby civilian populations.

The only high-yield nuclear weapons we need are for hardened military targets, and these weapons should adopt lead or tungsten tamper/pushers to cut the fission yield down from 50% to 5%, to minimise fallout and thereby make their deterrent effect more credible (usable) against potential aggressors. At the same time, a householder's civil defence handbook should be issued with a brief summary of facts on simple countermeasures against nuclear effects, proved by nuclear test effects research so it can't be dismissed as "government propaganda" like Cold War civil defence.


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